News Saturday, APRIL 25th, 1998

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President Vaclav Havel who is recovering from emergency surgery at an Austrian clinic underwent a tracheotomy Friday

Jose Cutileiro, Secretary General of the West European Union has been meeting with Czech top officials in Prague

The Social Democrats, who are widely expected to win the upcoming general elections, are divided over the fate of the nuclear power plant under construction in southern Bohemia

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail:

President - health

President Vaclav Havel who is recovering from emergency surgery at the Innsbruck University Clinic underwent a tracheotomy, or throat puncture, on Friday night, to help his breathing. Doctors who earlier professed to be pleased with the president's progress described this latest operation as "routine" and said that if anything it would help rather than hinder his recovery. Chief surgeon Ernst Bodner told journalists the medical team had taken the president off a respirator and had found that although he was breathing spontaneously the effort was draining his strength. President Havel, who underwent 4 surgical procedures in the past 10 days, will remain in intensive care for the time being.

WEU -Czech

Jose Cutileiro, Secretary-General of the West European Union and Czech prime minister Josef Tosovsky held talks in Prague Friday on European security matters, the Czech republic's projected membership in NATO and its ties with the WEU. The Czech republic is at present an associate partner in the Union and is slated to become an associate member after joining NATO. Jose Cutileiro is also scheduled to meet with Czech foreign minister Jaroslav Sedivy and defense minister Michal Lobkowicz.

Controversy over Temelin

The Social Democrats, who are widely expected to win the upcoming general elections, are divided over the fate of the nuclear power plant under construction in southern Bohemia. Party vice-chairwoman Petra Buzkova said Friday the issue had created sparks at the party's most recent meeting. As opposed to party leader Milos Zeman there are quite a few of us who believe a decision on Temelin's future should be preceded by a viable long-term energy policy for the Czech Republic, which would clarify the power plant's future role, and a serious study on its impact on the environment, Buzkova said. The Social Democrat's deputy chairwoman has in the past even joined environment protesters outside Temelin's gates to press her point.

ODS says audit result by May 10th

The ODS of ex-premier Vaclav Klaus which fell from power in the wake of a party financing scandal has announced that the independent forensic audit into its financing will be made public around May 10th. The Deloitte and Touche company will conclude its investigation by April 30th and it will take a week or so for it to prepare a comprehensive report for the media and public, a party official said Friday. The party has sharply rejected the most recent allegation pertaining to misuse of funds - according to which the party had avoided taxes and distributed 6 million in cash from secret sponsors directly to regional offices to be used in the 1996 election campaign.

Sport - American Pete Sampras recovered his world number one tennis ranking without playing when Czech Petr Korda, the only other contender for top spot, lost in the quarter finals of the Monte Carlo open on Friday. Korda , who lost to Dutchman Richard Krajicek 4-6 7-6 6-1, had to reach at least the final here to have a chance of becoming the 15th number one in the Open era.

And finally, a look at the weather - the next two days should be fairly warm, even though partly cloudy skies may yield scattered showers, as the report says. Day temps on Saturday forecast at between 16 and 20 degs - the outlook for Sunday is even better - between 20 and 24 degs C.